Though Karl Rove receives a salary from Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp for his work as a Fox News Channel “political contributor,” his compensation doesn’t end there. The network frequently airs ads by his American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS political committees, as “news,” free of charge.
A ThinkProgress review of Fox News Channel broadcasts over the past twelve months revealed that Fox News programs ran all or a significant part of Crossroads ads at least 34 times — an estimated value of more than $3.6 million in free air time. Frequently, the network’s hosts run the ads during Rove’s segments and then allow him to explain and repeat their charges.
On Monday, for example, Fox News aired a significant chunk of a new American Crossroads ad attacking former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over her handling of the attacks in Benghazi, Libya. Noting criticism the ad received from conservative columnist William Kristol, host Martha MacCullum asked Rove: “What say you?”
Watch the video:
According to TVEyes Media Monitoring Suite, a subscription-only search engine for TV broadcasts, a 30-second slot on America’s Newsroom program has a “national publicity value” of $79,445.92. But because the ad was shown during the programming, Rove and American Crossroads got 20-something seconds of the ad for free, rather than having to pay Fox News Channel or local cable companies for the air time. What’s more, he was then paid to promote his own advertisement.
ThinkProgress found eight other recent Fox News broadcasts featuring Crossroads commercials in TVEyes, with an estimated value of about $580,000 combined. A Nexis search of other Fox News transcripts found at least 25 other times when hosts showed significant clips of ads. Estimating the value of these slots based on an average of recent “national publicity values” for each suggests they were worth more than $3 mllion. It is worth noting that ratings for Fox News (and all news networks) have been lower in 2013 than in the 2012 election year, so the value of the pre-election ad plays would likely have been even higher.